An engineering marvel connecting two oceans, easing trade routes and employing 10,000 Panamanians in over 600 occupations.
The Panama Canal is an essential living mechanism that feeds the city and country with opportunity and wealth. But this man-made waterway has helped to create a contradiction. Within the artificial creation, a fascinating and diverse collection of wildlife thrives.
Board a private rainforest boat tour with Ancon Expeditions, which begins in the town of Gamboa.
Crossing the Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal you’ll experience the sheer scale of giant cargo ships passing through the waterway. Before you know it you’ll have cruised right into a wildlife sanctuary.
Still the sound of your breath so as not to scare away the Limpkin bird and her babies who search the bank for mussels to eat. The water on the lake Gatun constantly moves from the current of the canal, swirling, cresting and changing direction completely. It’s mesmerizing and hypnotic.
Your guide will point out crocodiles patrolling ahead, their eyes glinting in the sun before they retreat below the waves. Keep looking for Snail kites, an Anhinga and a Wattage Jacana bird which all live here perched on low trees, circling marshes and spreading their wings to catch the warmth of the sun.
Right here on this river, and in a hidden lake in the marshes, you can even spy sloths, although the monkeys are often a little easier to spot.
Before you get back on dry land try one of the mangos hanging low from the trees on the bank, they’ll be the sweetest you ever taste.
Once back in the city from your rainforest adventure, make a trip to the Miraflores visitor center and get a close up look at the Panama Canal and the ships passing through. The multi-floor museum provides information and education on the history of this mammoth project and the enormous impact it has had on the country.
Announcements in both English and Spanish let you know when it’s time to get up to the observation decks to watch the cargo ships being either raised or lowered to help them pass through the locks.
Wander around Casco Viejo, the old town of Panama and peer through the gates and windows of abandoned buildings, staircases to nowhere, and colonial architecture adorned with modern street art. Pop into the Chocolate Tropical Cafe for a chocolate tasting and to watch how they prepare their bespoke truffles.
In contrast to the old world charm of Casco Viejo and the non-stop city beat of Panama streets, The Bristol Hotel is a contemporary, stylish, and peaceful hideaway. The 125 luxurious rooms feature incredibly comfortable beds and elegant furnishings.
Check out the outdoor swimming pool and full-service spa if you need a little pampering. Then reserve a table at Salsipuedes restaurant. Offering gourmet Panamanian cuisine and a full cocktail menu, you’ll have an unforgettable evening.
Panama city is an exciting capital city and can easily entertain visitors but it’s also a convenient base to start your journey to either Pacific or Caribbean shores, so go exploring!